I already gave you my short-yet-ever-growing list of props and attitudes that instantly make you appear insane. Now, here: my collection of things that I, or friends and family of I, have witnessed that make the observer feel as though she were going crazy. (See? Subtle, different.)
First, a sampling of crazy-pill scenes as encountered by incredibly credible friends and family:
- A friend of mine from college was at a Dead show one million years ago and the guy directly behind her was wearing full clown regalia, the pompom buttons, the elasta-cinched ankles and wrists, everything. He was also wearing a plastic clown mask. And he was yelling. Yelling and yelling non-stop, all night long. But because of the insulation of the mask, she couldn’t make out the words, so all she heard for two solid hours was this bowel-loosening, satanic roar coming from just behind her right ear. About halfway through the show, and this is the actual crazy part, he finally took off his mask. My friend, noticing the sudden clarity of the ogre-clown’s voice, turned … and there he was, in full, sweaty-clown MAKEUP. Makeup! Under the mask! The end.
- A friend of a friend (the Dead-clown friend, actually) was sitting around in his dorm room when without warning 500 guitars started playing, as I remember it, the bull fight song out on the quad in front of his dorm. Apparently, and unbeknownst to this friend of friend, they were going for the world record of the most guitars playing at once. The sound of it was so big, the walls were throbbing with it, and he was very, very startled. (I searched for a record of the event, but all I found was the more recent record holder: 754 Guitars Rock into the Record Book with ‘Louie Louie’, which sounds even more alarming.)
- There’s a really nice and well-preserved Frank Lloyd Wright residential building up the block from my dad’s house, and it’s listed in a few guide books, the kind of books that tempt entire bus-loads of people to come for a visit. The thing is, it’s on one of those ridiculous, winding, not-city-maintained Marin lanes — stand out in front of my dad’s house and you can hear the honked warnings of people creeping around all the blind corners — and you just can’t get a big tour bus up there. Anyway, early, early one morning my dad was walking down the road heading into town when suddenly he turned the corner and saw 150 Japanese tourists wind-sprinting at him out of the fog, incredibly focused and silent except for the sounds of their heavy breathing. He stopped abruptly and they swarmed around him like salmon spawning around a rock. In thirty seconds, they were gone.
Plus some moments absorbed by me, first-hand:
- Last Friday I went to Adam‘s for one of his famous dinner parties (it was a powder-fine night, one of those rare and fragile stretches of hours when conversations turns magically to obscure and random topics that you just happen to know enough about to drop a comment that makes you seem incredibly wizened and dialed in, and then, before anyone can discover how shallow and ignorant you truly are, talk moves on, just in the nick of time). And somehow, while sober even, I talked Adam into burning me a CD of that “Crazy” Beyonce and GollumZ song. Nothing else. Just “Crazy” over and over, 18 times. On Sunday night, I put it on to keep me company as I did some sorting and wiping and scrubbing around the house, and let me tell you: by the time “Crazy” trumpets out your speakers for the eighteenth time, you really and truly are what you hear.
- Beginner’s stilt-walking class: ten or so people wearing a rainbow of ballooning, polka-dotted, two-story pants, clinging frantically to trees, glimpsed fleetingly one twilit evening while driving past Lake Merritt.
- Man in afro wig and wheelchair cruising up a late-night Berkeley sidewalk with three people running along side him, each touching the chair with one finger and screaming out random (?) letters and numbers.
– And of course you already know about the:
— Seven-foot scooter squirrel ghosting out of the mist.
— Street parrot in cowboy hat swaying along to bootleg polkas.
— Super pigeon (with lettuce cape) just trying to blend in.